The Subaru WRX TR is not an STI. It’s effectively a top-trim 2024 WRX GT with a manual transmission instead of a CVT. The other additions to the car, like the bigger Brembo brakes and slightly stiffer springs, are more or less imperceptible. And that’s the TR’s biggest problem.
I’ve heard a lot of people say the new WRX feels more "grown up," which is a shame. The WRX is the last car that should feel more grown up, it attracts some of the youngest new car buyers in the industry. This should be a road-going rally car, a rowdy sedan for people who don’t want to fit in. Instead, the WRX has become a sensible sedan with some light performance upgrades. And that's still true of the new TR trim.
|2024 Subaru WRX TR
|Turbocharged 2.4-Liter Flat-Four
|271 Horsepower / 258 Pound-Feet
The latest generation of Subaru’s sporty all-wheel-drive turbo sedan isn’t much to speak of in stock form, and the TR trim doesn’t do much to fix that. This thing is still an all-weather, stick-shift, boxer-engined sedan, which should be celebrated. I just wish Subaru gave me more opportunities to do so.
If the WRX TR had a peakier tune, a better shifter, a louder exhaust, and noticeable suspension changes, it would be great. If only Subaru had historically made a car just like that….
The boxer engine isn't any more powerful here. The turbocharged 2.4-liter unit still runs just about 12 pounds of boost, which results in the stock 271 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. That's just barely enough for it to feel turbocharged at all.
The bright spots are mostly chassis and ergonomics-related. You need a microscope to note the differences between the suspension in the regular WRX and the TR. As such, the ride is in the mellow valley between soft and stiff. A lack of body roll puts it into the realm of sportiness, but a little bit more spring rate wouldn’t hurt. It rides well, even with 19-inch wheels.
But I wanna feel more of the road. The steering is good even if it's a bit hazy on turn-in. Mid-corner it loads up well, especially at high speeds. The front end goes where you point it without drama, at least within the limits of grip. Adding too much power or losing too much traction will make the car push. Pressing the accelerator will make it worse. Backing off will return it to a neutral state.
You can really feel how minor steering inputs alter the car’s attitude, and it's not just "precise" as so many companies like to say; there is some actual feedback. The WRX also has excellent visibility, with a low beltline and large window openings all around. This is a very underrated part of making a car feel smaller than it actually is at speed.
If the WRX TR had a peakier tune, a better shifter, a louder exhaust, and noticeable suspension changes, it would be great.
I was lucky enough to drive this car in inclement weather – its natural habitat. The WRX is known for competently blazing through the rain and the snow, and that’s more or less what I got. Hard stops to test traction were surprisingly good with minimal wheel slip. Rev-matched downshifts were tough, though, because the car was just so quiet. But it was never upset by a gear change even without attempting a blip in the throttle.
I still wish there was more drama. On tight, slippery corner exits this car should’ve gotten a little rowdy, but it never did. In some spots, the road was totally soaked but it still never caught me off guard. This thing could’ve come into boost and reminded me, just for a millisecond, what I was driving. It never did.
Issues with the basic WRX aside, I also got the impression that Subaru made the TR because it had to. "Oh, you want a manual in the top trim? Here it is. And yes we changed the suspension, too!" It’s silly, because there are tangible things that could still be improved for the sportier TR trim, especially for $42,775.
The six-speed transmission, for instance, has an unacceptable amount of play in gear, especially for a brand-new car. The shift lever wobbled around enough in first to convince me I was in neutral. Then, I stalled it while parking.
Sure, there are some things to sweeten the deal in the TR. Sharp-looking 19-inch wheels, Recaro seats with microfiber inserts, and plenty of suede on the dash and doors. It’s all minor, though, and without the mechanical changes, it would be really hard to justify this as a distinct trim. There’s not even a "TR" badge anywhere on the car.
Unless you’re a diehard fan of the Japanese brand who’s been chomping at the end of your Elf Bar to get into a high-trim manual WRX, just get a lower-trim version. The cheaper the better, because the aftermarket doubtlessly has answers to all of these issues.
The TR feels like an attempt to keep the hardcore fans at bay until Subaru can figure out an STI version (if it ever does). It’s not like there’s nothing to be pleased about here, it’s just not enough for a name like WRX, and certainly not enough for a special trim.
Gallery: 2024 Subaru WRX TR First Drive Review
2024 Subaru WRX TR